What is Rice Protein?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Rice protein is a protein supplement made from brown rice, usually found in powder form. Unlike whey powder made from dairy and soy, which can cause digestive problems for some people, rice protein is often more easily digested, and shares with soy the advantage of being completely vegan. Some people on gluten-free diets use rice protein powder since it is also gluten-free, and others cite the main advantage is that it is less expensive than whey protein powder. One disadvantage for many people is that the powder can taste very bitter; fortunately, the taste can be hidden when the powder is added to food or beverages.

Rice protein may be added to smoothies.
Rice protein may be added to smoothies.

Conversion Process

It is common to think of rice as a carbohydrate, but like many other grains, it does contain amino acids that make up proteins. Through a special conversion process, brown rice is treated with enzymes that cause separation between carbs and proteins. These enzymes are considered vegan and the processing of rice in this manner is considered a “raw food” technique. The result is usually made into rice protein powder, which may be flavored or not, and can be added to a variety of foods.

Rice protein may be helpful for people trying to lose weight.
Rice protein may be helpful for people trying to lose weight.

Taste and Appearance

Most commonly, protein from rice is consumed in its natural form, rice; however, some people need alternatives to adding protein from rice to their diets — enter rice powder. This fine powder is sometimes flavored, most commonly with vanilla, and can be easily disguised in foods, desserts, and drinks, just like other protein supplements. There are fans and opposers of rice protein based on taste alone; some find the taste bitter, and others complain that it is unpleasantly chalky. Not everyone finds the taste repulsive, but if taste is an issue, there are plenty of ways to disguise it. By adding rice protein to smoothies or baked goods, consumers are unlikely to notice that it has any taste at all.

Red rice.
Red rice.


The main appeal of this type of protein is that most people digest it very well as it is hypoallergenic; those who may be lactose intolerant or have allergies to ingredients in other protein products will find rice protein to be a helpful alternative. People who wish to avoid consuming animal products often prefer this protein, and compared to other protein powders, those made of rice are typically less expensive. The amount of protein grams per serving ranges from about 10 to 30 grams, depending on the brand; the overall amount of calories is generally less in rice-based powders than other types of protein powders, making it a better option for people trying to lose weight. Several studies have shown that and endocrine protein obtained from brown rice may also help lower a person's overall risk for heart disease.

Brown rice is used to make rice protein.
Brown rice is used to make rice protein.

Adding Rice Protein to Your Diet

Rice is not a complete protein, so other proteins must be consumed with it to form a complete protein; this can be done by adding rice powder to foods and drinks. There are a number of companies that manufacture protein supplements, including those made of rice; the rice supplement can be found in most local health or natural foods stores. Some people suggest reading independent customer reviews and learning which brands have the most favorable reviews before purchasing the product. If the taste of the powder is a problem, think about exploring the benefits of the protein via baked goods or flavorful smoothies.

Rice protein is sold in powder form.
Rice protein is sold in powder form.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@anon325467: Don't confuse rice protein with rice flour. They are completely different. Rice protein isolate is about 80 percent protein, whereas rice flour is about 12 percent protein. The reason why RPI is more expensive than rice flour is because it has more protein in it.

@Charlie89: Whey powder (whey protein concentrate or whey protein isolate) mostly does not necessarily contain more protein in it. Rice protein isolate is about 80 percent protein, whey protein concentrate is 76 percent protein, and whey protein isolate is 87 percent protein. So RPI contains more protein than WPC but less than WPI. However, all in all, these differences in protein percentages are not huge, and WPI is considerably more expensive than RPI and WPC.


Is rice flour the same as rice protein? So I can grind up organic brown rice in my high-powered blender, rather than buying expensive brands of rice protein?


Thank you for your article. Could you tell me more about the "special conversion process, brown rice is treated with enzymes that cause separation between carbs and proteins. These enzymes are considered vegan and the processing of rice in this manner is considered a “raw food” technique."

I'm kind of a geek too when I choose my food. --Frank


@Streamfinder -- Well, the main difference is that whey powder has a lot more protein, as well as more of other nutrients.

However, whey protein is not suitable for those with lactose intolerance, dairy sensitivities, and those who wish to avoid animal-based protein, such as vegans.

When it comes down to it though, for the average person, either one is OK, and it just comes down to personal preference.


What are the differences in rice protein vs whey protein?


There are different kinds of rice protein, and each one has a different amount of protein.

Although if you just want a vegetarian source of protein and aren't too picky about the amount, then any old kind of rice protein will do -- brown rice protein, organic rice protein, etc.

But if you are really picky about choosing the best rice protein, then you may want to ask your nutritionist about what kind of rice protein is best for your dietary needs.


Thanks for your review. I love the rice protein powder by Nutribiotic and bought it (three-pound canister) for 21.99.

The texture in smoothies takes a little getting used to (some family members won't touch it) but I am a staunch advocate.

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